Following one of Revolution‘s strongest episodes is one of Revolution‘s weakest episodes. “Home” is an installment that really highlights how much of a shaft this show has given to its characters. Not to mention its inability to comprehend just how long of a period of time 15 years is or what living in a post-apocalyptic world is all about.
We open at the tail end of a neat looking battle where Monroe, Bevis, and some of the Georgia soldiers are defeating some of Monroe’s militia. The loss of his troops leads General Monroe to send a messenger to Miles that tells him to meet him in his hometown (alone) “or else I’m going to kill everyone in our hometown I swear to god. Anyone you ever loved or cared about will die. Just because they know you. Starting with Emma.” I’m somewhat accepting of the excuse that he does not want to risk all-out war with Georgia, which is why he isn’t sending some of his helicopters to the Resistance compound and killing everyone. Of course, killing one of their top Temp-to-Perm Generals in a scheme might do just as well.
Bringing along troops and his new (presumably) second-in-command Jeremy Baker (Mark Pellegrino), Monroe flies into his hometown, whose name I didn’t catch. While the townspeople look surprised, they lack the “OH MY GOD HELICOPTERS!!!” reaction that probably should accompany seeing advanced technology for the first time in 15 years. In the crowd is Emma, played by Annie Wersching, another 24 castoff.
In the long, long ago, before they shipped off to basic training, Miles and Monroe were in a love triangle with Emma. While she was Miles’ girlfriend/fiancé, she had an affair with Monroe. Modern day Emma also makes me question my theory about Rachael having PTSD because she has the same head-in-the-sand obliviousness as the Matheson matriarch. Even assuming that the extent of Monroe’s horrors hasn’t reached every corner of the Republic, there’s something strange about her behavior. He is a dictator. In their minds, he might be a benevolent dictator, but he’s a dictator nonetheless. He controls what amounts to a country. He has damned helicopters. Yet she treats him as though he’s just an old friend stopping by for a visit and gives no sense that this man is probably the most famous person in the entire territory. And he has damned helicopters.
After Emma witnesses him ordering his soldiers to kill a man by beating his brains in, she shares a kiss with him. At one point, Emma says “These aren’t strangers. They’re your teachers and your neighbors!” How did their hometown manage to weather the apocalypse so well? All the other towns we’ve seen ended up destroying themselves, yet somehow that town survived with its population apparently relatively intact? It’s been 15 years since the power went out. I assume he doesn’t visit often enough to remember who his damned mailman was or to care about the local shopkeep. Is Charlie seriously the best and most realistically written female on this show?
Regardless, Miles gives Emma a “the man you loved is dead!” speech and orders everyone in the town to be locked in a basement and burned alive. Luckily, Miles with Bevis, Charlie, Nora, and a red shirt or two in tow, arrive in the nick of time and save everybody. Miles rushes in and takes them out of the burning building while his backup uses automatic rifles to ATTACK THE COMPOUND!
Miles retreats to the rest of his army, and Monroe grabs Emma as a hostage. Even though everyone has a good shot on Monroe, Miles tells them to stand down lest they kill Emma. Emma is a character we have never met before. Emma is a character we have never even heard about before. Are we supposed to care about her or her fate? If so, why? Because Miles liked her over 20 years ago? We know he’d probably be willing to sacrifice almost anyone else from the town. The attempt to reap drama from this situation felt more forced than most of this show’s ham-handed tries at humanization.
Emma begs Monroe to let her go so that she can see “him again.” And, mustering up the best in soap opera delivery she says, “Not Miles. My son! Your son!” She got pregnant on the night before they went to basic training but never told him about the child who no longer lives in the town. However, one of the red shirts fires, killing Emma and hitting Monroe in the stomach.
So Miles shoots him dead. Instead of any of the other soldiers taking a shot at the severely wounded Monroe, they just stand around and do nothing as Monroe gets away. I thought the coldness of Miles’ action was going to spur some level of discussion. For the entire series, I thought he seemed too nice and remorseful to return to Miles of yore. This was the first time that I could see where he could be a threat. Basing strategy on emotion. Killing soldiers on a whim. Willing to let hundreds of people die because of selfish motivations. How do the characters react to this? Bevis says understandingly, “she meant something to you.” Way to identify the drama, Revolution.
Also tonight, Aaron gets a chance to “shine.” Since the start of this show, Aaron has always been the most problematic character. While Tracy Spiridakos is probably Revolution‘s worst actor (though she has been improving), Charlie serves an important function both within the story and as a trope of the genre. But after more than half the season, the show still hasn’t figured out Aaron’s place. His primary purpose is to look frazzled and act nervous. He was a tech guy, once, but whenever presented with a technology problem he gets flustered. And now Rachel has taken over the role of IT Support. He’s not comic relief. I’m sure he might have said a couple of funny lines over the past 15 episodes, but when describing Aaron, “humorous” is not one of the first words that come to mind. The line from last week describing him as “the chubby gentleman” was funnier than anything he ever said. And if it’s to show how the elite would have trouble adjusting to the post-electric world, it’s been 15 years, so if he’s lasted this long, he’s probably used to and accepting of the new world.
All these problems (and more) highlight the main issue with Aaron- there’s no emotional connection to him. He’s just there. He’s too lame to hate. So a B-plot focused on Aaron can either a) revitalize the character and make us see him in a new light or b) make us embarrassingly realize “oh right, we’re supposed to care about him. Well, good luck with that show.”
In “Home,” we contend with the latter. While on their trek to The Tower, Rachael and Aaron stop off in a town where Aaron sees his ex-wife, Priscilla, who hasn’t aged a day. This was a plotline that I’m sure audiences were clamoring to see resolved. During their first conversation, Priscilla seems nervous and confused and claims she’s with her husband. Aaron says to Rachael afterward, “You don’t know her like I do. Something wasn’t right.” You left her with a clan of strangers over 11 years ago, I’d expect some shock. In Revolution world, I’d expect some shock anytime you ran into anybody you knew from the past. Not to mention a decade in Revolution world is probably more catastrophic than a decade in the real world; people change.
But Aaron’s right. There is something off with the former Mrs. There’s a bounty on her head for attacking a Monroe sergeant, and the person she was with is a bounty hunter taking her to Monroe’s headquarters. Aaron’s actions lead to her being rescued, but she refuses to go with him because she’s headed for Texas where her 11-year-old daughter and rest of the family are. So she bids him farewell saying, “I love you Aaron and I always will.”
Does this show honestly think the Praaron relationship struck any emotional chords with viewers? That we wanted them to get back together? Because abandoning her out of insecurity is not a positive trait, and simply being in the opening credits does not warrant us rooting for him and his dreams. “Home” revealed no more about Aaron, nor will it likely lead to long-term changes to his character.
“Home” also seems like it should have lent itself to more substantial connections between the two storylines. We’re dealing about three characters running into lost loves after over a decade of not seeing them. The females’ lives are threatened. And there’s bastard children. Yet despite the obvious parallels, it doesn’t feel like the show combines them thematically all too well. For two stories that are so alike, Revolution should have done a greater job linking them emotionally.
Luckily, the show ends on a high note. We return to Georgia where Madame President Kelly is talking about some mysterious source who provided her more information in three days than her scouts did in three years. She wants to offer this person a deal to assist in the attack on Monroe. The door opens, and it’s Captain Tom Neville.
The reveal is obvious. The set-up is obvious. And, it was obvious that at some point Neville and Miles were going to work together to bring down Monroe. Nevertheless, Neville’s a strong character and Esposito’s a good actor, so that’s something.
• Priscilla’s going to Texas to be with her family. Hasn’t it been implied, if not outright stated, over the past couple of episodes that Texas is even worse than the Monroe Republic? Did the show forget that or is it one of those The Road type endings where no matter where they go, it’s going to be hell?
• Monroe, whom Emma lovingly calls Bass, also demanded that Miles show up in his hometown “by dawn.” So are all these locales in quick walking distance from one another. Is the resistance camp only a couple of miles from Miles’ hometown, because that’s damned coincidental.
• Mark Pellegrino is a very underutilized resource on this show. I liked his use of “Peach Eaters” as a derogatory name for the Georgians. Hopefully, he’s Miles’ official second-in-command and will remain with us for at least the rest of the season.
• Emma puts flowers on Monroe’s parents grave. What’s wrong with her?
• Last week, Revolution was picked up for a second season. I hope Hannibal is as well. I’ve been enjoying that show a lot more than I thought I would. On the bright side, Rockne O’Bannon is joining Revolution as Kripke’s #2. I know Cult was a mess (though one I would have liked see play out a bit longer), but I just started going through the terrific Farscape so I’m actually excited about next season.